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WGL Holdings’ (WGL) Unit to Propose Rate Slash for Customers


WGL Holdings, Inc.’s WGL, subsidiary Washington Gas, has announced plans to file recommendations with state regulatory commissions, in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia for reducing natural gas rates for 1.1 million customers it serves in this region.

The rate filing aim to reduce customer rates, which is expected to lower annual customer bills by approximately $34 million, beginning in the first quarter of 2018. This development will certainly be a relief for customers as the company earlier expected up to 18% increase in heating bills compared with last winter due to the mild weather last year.

What Led to the Decision?

The unit’s decision to file for rate decline is a result of the federal tax savings that the company expects to attain in future.

WGL Holdingsanticipates realizing the federal tax savings on the back of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, a law that was passed on Dec 22, 2017. The law came into effect on Jan 1, 2018. Going ahead, Washington Gas will bear only 21% of corporate income tax, which is significantly lower than its previous tax rate of 35%.

A 14% cut in federal income tax means that the company will naturally be able to save up considerable amount in tax savings. This 169-year old utility company has been working relentlessly to provide quality services to customer at best possible prices. Sharing tax reduction benefit will allow its customers to enjoy reliable services at a reduced price.

How is WGL Gaining?

The company’s decision to propose a rate slash in customer bill is a clear indication of its commitment in retaining the large customer base. We have witnessed reliable results on the back of customer additions in the past, which can be evidenced from 16,689 customer additions during fiscal 2017, compared with year-ago period. In fact, high customer additions along with investment initiatives, must have aided the company to deliver positive surprise of 8.5% during in fiscal 2017.

For the past six years, the company has invested $100 million annually on an average in the form of investments in the energy systems. The company is currently equipped with 235 generation projects in the US, representing approximately 145 megawatts (MW) in service, with additional 66 MW under construction. These factors will aid the company in delivering growth targets and position it in meeting the increasing needs of its expanding customer base.

Price Movement

Shares of WGL Holdings have outperformed the industry in the last three months. The company’s shares gained 1.3%, against the industry’s decline of 1.4%.

Such outperformance can be attributed to the company’s performance during fiscal year ended Sep 30, 2017, that benefited strongly owing to higher customers among other factors.

Zacks Ranks & Key Picks

WGL Holdings currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Better-ranked stocks from the sector are NextEra Energy, Inc. NEE, Atlantic Power Corporation AT and DTE Energy Company DTE, all of which carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

NextEra delivered an average surprise of 4.34% in the trailing four quarters. Its 2017 estimates have increased to $6.73 per share from $6.71 per share in the last 90 days.

Atlantic Power delivered an average surprise of 29.21% in the trailing four quarters. Its 2017 estimates have narrowed to a loss of 22 cents per share from a loss of 27 cents per share in the last 90 days.

DTE Energy delivered an average surprise of 3.81% in the trailing four quarters. Its 2017 estimates have increased to $5.54 per share from $5.42 per share in the last 90 days.

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